Have We Any Influence?

This is the title of a chapter in John Stott's - 'Issues Facing Christians Today'. Rebecca Manley Pippert has also written a well- known book a few years ago called 'Out of the Saltshaker and into the World'. Both authors have put forth food for thoughts on the state of the Christian faith today.

We live in the post-modern era today. Many references and images portray what this post-modern era means. Generally it has been looked upon as a period of time where there is increased skepticism on the successes that have brought America and Europe where they are today. Questions arise as to what will bring humankind forward in this new millennium. Moral absolutes that previously guide most of the Western world based on a Christian worldview is slipping into obscurity. It is replaced by a moral relativism. We no longer have a voice in this global community. My recent stay in the United States has given me greater sense of urgency to see the Kingdom of God expand and hopefully hold back the negative influences that rides into the global community, via Hollywood movies, violent and meaningless game shows and MTVs. Many people's worldviews, life philosophies, values and beliefs do not come from hours of intense study but from the arts, movies and casual conversations around a dinning table. Where have we fallen and fallen so desperately?

Using the imagery provided by Pippert's book title, we need to ask ourselves what the Saltshakers are today. In other words, what is preventing the Christian from being effective salt. There are many social contexts in which we all live in. However, I believe there are two threads of similarities that hold the 'salt' from our influence.

Being too comfortable

Affluence is our greater enemy than desperate situations. There is a Chinese proverb which basically says that 'it is easier to share difficulties with a person than to enjoy riches with him'. The Gospel has called us to radical living. The economic growth and gains of the past half a century after the World Wars have made many more affluent than kings and lords in centuries past. We enjoy greater luxuries and wealth. The capitalistic system also drives us towards attaining material possessions while at the same time avoiding situations that will jeopardize that pursuit. We want to live 'respectable' (sarcasm implied) Christian lives so that we will not look silly. Yet at the same time, we want to have what our neighbors have. We want to live as comfortable Christians, not too radical so as to end up looking like fools in front of our non-Christian colleagues and friends. We want to take away the sting of the Gospel, so as not to offend the other party. We do not feel like it is a good idea to insist that Jesus is the ONLY way since most people think otherwise.

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